Rugby Union: Round-up: Swansea finish in style

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The Independent Online
SWANSEA were installed as Welsh Premier Division champions last night as they swept aside Pontypridd 45-27 at Sardis Road. The All Whites ran in five tries - two from Paul Moriarty and one apiece from Andy Booth, Scott Gibbs and Colin Charvis - while Pontypridd contributed two touchdowns of their own, both courtesy of Simon Enoch, Neil Jenkins and Arwel Thomas, rivals for the Wales No 10 shirt, kicked the rest of their sides' points. The only blemishes on an entertaining evening were the yellow cards shown to Thomas and Pontypridd's Dale McIntosh.

Cardiff, last season's champions, pipped Pontypridd for the runners-up spot with a superb comeback in which they scored 21 points in the final 20 minutes to overhaul visitors Llanelli 31-27. Liam Botham scored two tries on the Cardiff wing, but their lock Derwyn Jones was sent-off for throwing a punch in the first half to end the season on a sour note.

Relegated Newport completed a miserable league season in which they have not won a single game when they lost 41-17 at home to Neath. They change places with Caerphilly, the Division One champions, who signed off their campaign with a 42-17 win at South Wales Police.

The Stade de France was full with 80,000 watching the appropriately-named Stade Francais beat Perpignan 34-7 in the French championship final. Six tries, together with the redoubtable boot of Italy's Diego Dominguez, was enough to see off the challenge of Perpignan, who could only manage one try.

The Newcastle prop Paul Van-Zandvliet has been cleared by the Rugby Football Union of biting the England flanker Neil Back during a recent Allied Dunbar Premiership One match with Leicester. The 17st tight-head is free to play for Newcastle today in the title decider at Harlequins.

A 35-man Scotland squad, led by the Lions forward Rob Wainwright, leaves today for an eight-match tour of Fiji and Australia.

Charlie Bisset, one of the Scottish Rugby Union's two representatives on the International Rugby Board, insists that next season's European Cup will go ahead with or without the leading English clubs. "The sponsors are happy and Sky TV are prepared to meet their commitments over the remaining four years of the current agreement," he said.

Canterbury gained home advantage and a psychological edge over Coastal Sharks, their semi-final opponents in the Super 12, when they beat the South Africans 32-20 in Durban yesterday. Next weekend's other semi-final will be an all-Kiwi affair with the champions Auckland at home to Otago, who qualified for the last four when Queensland lost 23-16 to ACT in Canberra. Auckland finished top of the qualifying table with a 45-34 win away to Wellington in which Jonah Lomu scored two 50-metre tries.

New Zealand's rugby dominance was underlined in Amsterdam yesterday when they lifted the third women's World Cup with a 46-12 victory over the United States in which their wing Vanessa Cootes ran in five tries. England, who lost to New Zealand in the semi-finals, beat Canada 81-15 to take third place.

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